On Monday, April 13, ABC will attempt to lift our collective spirits with the premiere of The Baker and the Beauty. In the vein of last year’s Grand Hotel, the new show is another Latinx-led, Miami-set romantic drama. Unlike Grand Hotel, however, Baker doesn’t have its roots in Mexican telenovelas. Instead, Baker is a remake of a Israeli show Lehiyot Ita, which is internationally titled — you guessed it — The Baker and the Beauty.
Whether you’re planning to watch ABC’s version of Baker or not — you’re going to want to binge the original version of the series, which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. In the era of self-quarantine, it’s the rom-com extravaganza you’ll be looking for once you’ve run through Jane the Virgin, New Girl, You’re the Worst, Lovesick, and every other lovable show you’ve already been told to watch.
Both versions of Baker and the Beauty share an essential premise. The handsome son of a working-class family — Amos (Avraham Aviv Alush) in the OG Baker’s case — goes out to dinner with his longtime girlfriend Vanessa (Hila Saada). After years of dating, Vanessa decides to publicly propose to Amos in the middle of their date at an excessively pricey, pretentious restaurant. Amos declines, setting off a chain of events that puts him in the path of Noa Hollander (Rotem Sela), a well-known style mogul and the ridiculously wealthy daughter of a hotel magnate.
Amos goes from suffering through the most embarrassing night of his life to sharing an intense heart-to-heart with the most eligible woman in his country — at the sultry rooftop portion of a luxe nightclub, no less. From there, the pair eventually fall in love over two seasons and 20 half-hour episodes, all of which are on Amazon. But this story is much more complicated than a simple fairytale.
The magic of Baker and the Beauty is watching a gorgeous couple you’re already rooting for try to surmount the very real crisis that would befall such a pairing. Their introduction might be pure Disney — a chance meeting at an unexpected place — but the aftermath isn't. The lowest stakes of the series question how someone like Amos, who still works and lives with his parents as a grown man, can keep up with a woman as glamorous and independent as Noa. It’s a delight to watch Amos perform mental math to figure out how long he can keep his home life a secret from Noa and if there will ever be a good time to explain to her the reality of working-class life.
Then there is the much more serious arc of Baker that explores how romance and race intersect for a couple with a shared faith like Amos and Noa (they're both Jewish). Amos is a brown man whose family hails from Yemen. Noa presents as white and is wildly posh to boot. Even reality series like The Bachelor — where romantic decisions reverberate through actual lives for years to come — tend to skate by tough conversations around identity in favor of glossy chatter about true love. Baker never pretends Amos and Noa’s love story exists in such an impossible bubble.
At one point late in the series’ first season, Noa’s scheming manager Zvika (Mark Ivanir) goes out of his way to sabotage the Baker couple’s burgeoning romance. When Zvika's plot is nearly thwarted, he has a meltdown in front of Amos’ now-bitter ex, Vanessa. To explain his terrifying behavior, Zvika tells Vanessa, “My moron is willing to waste the opportunity of a lifetime just to spare your negro’s feelings, and to annoy me,” according to subtitles. It’s a chilling statement that is also painfully honest about people’s prejudices.
Baker stops itself from going fully grim by leaving Zvika behind to focus on its true stars: lovebirds Amos and Noa. Even when those two are arguing about exes and baggage, they're still a wildly compelling duo.
If you don’t have the patience to wait for weekly installments of ABC’s Baker while you’re self quarantining, the original is waiting for you on Amazon right now. You'll have a sweet — and pretty spicy — 10 hours ahead of you.